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Crapalachia: A Biography of a Place

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,010 ratings  ·  207 reviews
"McClanahan's prose is miasmic, dizzying, repetitive. A rushing river of words that reflects the chaos and humanity of the place from which he hails. [McClanahan] aims to lasso the moon... He is not a writer of half-measures. The man has purpose. This is his symphony, every note designed to resonate, to linger."
New York Times Book Review

"Crapalachia is the genuine article
Paperback, 169 pages
Published March 19th 2013 by Two Dollar Radio (first published January 1st 2013)
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Crapalachia by Scott McClanahanMira Corpora by Jeff  JacksonThe Orange Eats Creeps by Grace KrilanovichHow to Get into the Twin Palms by Karolina WaclawiakI'm Trying to Reach You by Barbara Browning
Two Dollar Radio
1st out of 41 books — 19 voters
Islands of the Heart by David  StringerClotho's Loom by Shawn StJeanThe Wayward Gifted by Donna K. ChildreeCould You Be With Her Now by Jen MichalskiThe League for the Suppression of Celery by Wendy Russ
Indie Literary Fiction - August New Releases
11th out of 33 books — 74 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,587)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: When Scott McClanahan was fourteen he went to live with his Grandma Ruby and his Uncle Nathan, who suffered from cerebral palsy. Crapalachia is a portrait of these formative years, coming-of-age in rural West Virginia.

Peopled by colorful characters and their quirky stories, Crapalachia interweaves oral folklore and area history, providing an ambitious and powerful snapshot of overlooked Americana.

My Review: Memoir...I remember...that's what makes this book
Even though I was only 14 years old, there was no telling when the angel of death might come to get my ass.

This is a book about suicide, dead miners, and children being left to scream and writhe in pain because their parents can't afford doctors.

And yet, I couldn't stop laughing.

She told us the story about how he was trying to get his pension from the mines. But before he got it, he had to fight for a couple of months. He finally got a letter that went..."Dear Mr. McClanahan, we regret to info
Ben Loory
One time a man left home. He had argued with his mother and father the day before he left. They spoke horrible words to one another and he left without saying goodbye. He had been gone many years and even spent time in jail. Years later, he finally got out of jail and he wondered if his mother and father were even alive, and if they were ashamed of what had been said and of where he had wound up. He wrote to them and told them he would be coming home on a specific day the following week. If they ...more
Aug 08, 2013 Ginger rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: human beings
Recommended to Ginger by: Phyllis Moore
McClanahan wrote about people I've known and loved, and love, and remember, and misremember, and sometimes want to forget. He pretended to be rock solid hard-ass Appalachian/West Virginian, then shape-shifted in that magic way of the Scot-Irishman and became liquid, seeped into my soul and washed loose all the debris that had settled there -- was resting quite nicely, in fact -- and stirred up all that shit and made me laugh and cry and nod my head in agreement and want a drink even though I don ...more
This book is the perfect antidote for such trash as "Honey Boo Boo" or the duck-and-catfish folks that seem to constitute the entirety of non-singing/non-cooking Reality TV these days. Much like "Winter's Bone," Crapalachia paints a depressingly realistic picture of what life is like for people living on the mountainous fringes of American society, yet does so in a way that doesn't rob them of their inherent dignity. There is nothing cute or funny about these folks, and America really needs to d ...more
i am not going to write like a real review here but i will say that this book broke my heart and then stitched it back together again into something slightly larger than it was before, and i had a decent-sized heart to begin with. also the way this book is structured is like nothing i'd really encountered in terms of the way scott sets up chapters and sections and characters and really makes this a book that is not only a memoir/novel type situation [the idea being that telling someone the facts ...more
Michael Seidlinger
This book is evidence of the fact that McClanahan would live through the treacherously bad times and still manage to bring that big grin around and wide. He'll say "CURE FOR DEPRESSION" and he’ll show you what's up. How to do it. How to keep from letting a bummer bring you down.

I don’t waste any time trying to discern between which parts of Crapalachia are true or not; set together as a singular entity, family history as Crapalachia, it is all true, and every single word of it must be read.

McClanahan has, by virtue of his intense talents, built up an utterly unique reading experience. He doesn't write books, he writes sermons. And he doesn't preach them to you from on high so much as sit down across a plate of onion rings from you and, like a dear old friend, catch you up on the comings and goings in the cosmos with the subtle human joy of a drunken, mischievous sage. Yes, the world can be ugly and hard...but as he says, "Please tell me you remember kindness. Please tell me you re ...more
This is set in Danese, WV, a town so small I've never even heard of it -- and not to brag or anything, but I know a fair amount of the smallest towns in West Virginia.

I have all kinds of mixed feelings about this one, so my rating might change once I let it stew for a bit. As someone with Appalachian roots whose blood pressure isn't capable of handling jokes at the expense of rural America (the excess of "what do you expect from an uneducated hillbilly" comments on the recent Duck Dynasty kerfu
Loved it, loved it, LOVED IT. If not my favorite book of 2014, it's up there. It is also now, one of my comfort books.

I don't even care if it was partially fictionalized. I found the stories and characters absolutely fascinating. I especially liked Ruby and Nathan, and Little Bill.

Ohh, and I listened to the audiobook version. The narrator they picked to read it was perfect. He had the accent and tones down. I liked it when he would say "WHAT THE FUCK?!".
Jamie Gaughran-Perez
Make sure you read the Appendix. I don't want to spoil anything though, but the Appendix = the fifth star in 5 and I'm not a 5-star giving kinda guy. But I do have weak spot for southern literature, as they call it. I said smarter things along the way, there was more from this book that I wanted, but I still walked away with so much. Pick it up.
Tyler Crumrine
I will remember and I will love. I will not forget the awful responsibility of time. I will remember kindness and joy. I will continue to reach for the mountaintops, even from the holler. This book is a mountaintop. More mountaintops, please. More mountaintops.
Charles White
Ultimately affecting, though the brief polemic at the end about Lee Smith, et al is cute bullshit.
Tominda Adkins
Everything in this book is entirely true. If you grew up anywhere close to the heart of West Virginia, and were raised by people who were raised by people who were raised by people who grew up there, too, then you'll understand exactly what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a place where people revel in kitsch without irony and where the death of every family member develops its own gruesome folklore (which is completely appropriate for kitchen table discussions, by the way). A place where we ...more
It doesn't get better than knowing a few pages in, I want to devour this book like a pan of his Grandma Ruby's peanut butter fudge. The character of his uncle will stay with me for a long time, reminding me that everyone has layers to them if we just take the time to look.

The bold appendix was perhaps my favorite part. In it he offers his explanations for inventing, merging and modifying the truth. I love how this speaks to subjective memory and the fluid embroidery of family stories.

A quote: I
Ron S
It's nice to see a book from a small press (Two Dollar Radio) that aims at an honest portrayal of lives lived in Appalachia (instead of a cartoon version) get major review attention (as this book did in the NYT). This is a book about family, a place, a state of mind, a way of being. There are rivers and malls and mountains mentioned, but not as you might expect. The language is poetic and as casually simple and addictive as homemade crank. Every spring for most of the last 20 years I've gone to ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
We make jokes about Appalachia. We express concern about its endemic poverty. We find it scary although we have never been there. We are not proud of ourselves when we find books about Appalachia titillating, but these stories always have such jaw-dopping, outrageous elements that they make voyeurs of us all. I am speaking of course about myself, but I think others might fess up to similar reactions.

McClanahan is from West Virginia, and this fictionalized memoir covers his teenage years during
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A combination of memoir and short stories, and some of the characters also tell stories. I half expected a book with this title to be disparaging toward West Virginia, but instead it is a heartfelt, connected look at Scott McClanahan's extended family and the children he grew up with in rural West Virginia.

A few of the most memorable moments:
Funeral pictures
Home nurses
Learning the history of mining disasters in school
Fact fiction fact fiction place fact fiction fact fiction family fact fiction West Virginia fact fiction story fact fiction love fact fiction fact fiction longing fact fiction fact fiction birth fact fiction fact fiction God fact fiction fact fiction dirt and stones.

More -
I originally reviewed this book at

Rating:4.25/5 calls to 911 to get the ambulance to take you to the store to buy 7-Up for your son

HOLY BALLS YOU GUYS I AM WRITING A BOOK REVIEW. Yes, yes, I actually read my ass a book and now I'm reviewing the motherfucker*.

*Apologies to Scott McClanahan and Two Dollar Radio for referring to the book as "motherfucker." I have no evidence at all that the book fucked any mothers.

I didn't know anything aboutCrapalachiawhen it arrived in my
Someone help me. I can't stop reading Scott McClanahan.

Another improbably fantastic read. McClanahan's oeuvre is enriched with each new book to the point where his world is so familiar and comfortable you slip right in at the first word of the first sentence. It hurts to leave it. I hate when I finish his books but I can't put them down. This is a good paradox. My favorite one.
Reading this book was like sitting by a woodstove at the age of four eating a banana that the oldest lady I have ever seen gave me because I'm a visitor to her house that smells like snuff and dogs and I can't imagine how my dad knows her, but they have obviously been acquainted for a long time.

Reading this book was like looking through the dirty glass panes of the abandoned 4 room house out by the barn where my Great Uncle Clemont used to stay before (or after?) he went to jail and seeing a pa
M. Sarki
I liked this book very much and may up my rating to four stars depending on what follows. I think he has much better work in store for me. Stories and Stories II were great, and Stories V! is next up on my plate. A better review may follow if I find the time.
This is the kind of book to give to someone who doesn't know or care abt the power of storytelling. It is not flawless or always pretty, but it displays the story like a solid body in front of you waving his arms. My dad will love this book. My friend Cody will love this book. I loved this book as it proved what McClanahan proves again and again: a real story is the most powerful way to capture a moment, to feel like you've truly been walloped.
Jim Taone
The characters in this book are amazing. I think Uncle Nathan alone earns a five star rating. I think it's a great coming-of-age story that revels in the naivety of the young. It also is told from a point of view where all one wishes is to relive, if even for a second, the same naivety of their younger selves. Also, there's a fried chicken recipe... So...
I liked the way that the narrator in this book is as intimately connected to the emotion as possible, yet stands aside and just lets that emotion come across without really suggesting what the reader should feel. It feels very natural and real, moving and powerful without ever appearing to try real hard. In short, damn fine writing.
I bought this book at Malaprops in Asheville during Booktopia weekend. It was mentioned by one of the booksellers and I couldn't resist the title. My mother was born in eastern Kentucky. She lived in a "holler" until she was 11. When her mother died, she moved to Ohio to live with an older sister. So I am no stranger to the characters within these pages. I am reminded of the saying, "you can choose your friends but not your family". This book is not great lit, but it does aptly describe a certai ...more
Read this in Florida with my family. Felt pretty smart, reading it in the South, nearby family members. This book is filled with family and southern senses. Scott makes these people really matter. Nathan is such a sad and beautiful character.
I guess only people who are really into literature "get" this. I fail to understand why books like this are deemed "great works of literature"! Of course I have read other classic works and have wondered the same thing.
Hot damn this book is good. Like, really good. Really really good. I'll be effusive about it in detail over at The Nervous Breakdown in a month or two, but for now, just know that I think EVERYONE should be pre-ordering this.
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Let's Start a Boo...: Hated this book! Not worth your time to read! 1 13 Feb 02, 2014 07:51PM  
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“I knew he believed in something that none of us ever do anymore. He believed in the nastiest word in the world. He believed in KINDNESS. Please tell me you remember kindness. Please tell me you remember kindness and joy, you cool motherfuckers.” 14 likes
“I never look at a painting and ask, "Is this painting fictional or non-fictional?" It's just a painting.” 7 likes
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